verbum dei

At the end of his lectures in 1531, Luther uttered a brief prayer and then dictated two  Scriptural texts.,

“The Lord who has given us power to teach and to hear, let Him also give us the power to serve and to do.”

LUKE 2 – Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will to men.

ISAIAH 40 – The Word of our God shall stand forever.

The Latin translation of Isaiah 40 is “Verbum Dei manet in aeternum”, the Word of God remains forever.  That was the defiant motto of Luther’s protectors and benefactors; Frederick the Wise and his successors as well as of Philipp of Hesse, whose servants wore it on their livery at the Diet of Speyer in 1526. It was also the defiant motto of the minority of the princes at the Diet of Speyer in 1529.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica –

The name Protestant first appeared at the Diet of Speyer in 1529, when the Roman Catholic emperor of GermanyCharles V, rescinded the provision of the Diet of Speyer in 1526 that had allowed each ruler to choose whether to administer the Edict of Worms (in which the Catholic Church and Charles V condemned Martin Luther as a heretic and enemy of the state). On April 19, 1529, a protest against this decision was read on behalf of 14 free cities of Germany and six Lutheran princes who declared that the majority decision did not bind them because they were not a party to it and that if forced to choose between obedience to God and obedience to Caesar they must choose obedience to God. They appealed either to a general council of all Christendom or to a synod of the whole German nation. Those who made this protest became known to their opponents as Protestants, and gradually the label was applied to all who adhered to the tenets of the Reformation, especially to those living outside Germany. In Germany the adherents of the Reformation preferred the name evangelicals.

At this meeting the confessors showed one of the most important points of the Reformation and that is that the word of God that remains forever is not just a private or personal word, (me and Jesus) but that the Word that remains forever is very much public and perhaps even “political”.  It is not a coincidence that verse 46 of Psalm 119, is the motto of the Augsburg Confession: “I will also speak of your decrees before kings, and shall not be put to shame.”

Many young people today take the attitude of a character on a popular sitcom.  ” I don’t object to the concept of a deity, but I’m baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance.”  Parents are not much better with their constant appeals to the clergy that their “children have faith, they just don’t come to church”.  Yet it is in the church that the public confession is most visible and heard so that the confession can go outward.  The generation that “has faith but doesn’t come to church”, is also the generation that is silent about whatever faith it has.  If it is not silent the confession made is usually shallow and sometimes Biblically incorrect.

We need to think deeply about this because it has tremendous implications on mercy and witness and missions.